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Óscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo round out their second Dakar rally with a heroic finish


The podium in Lima was a long shot for the SsangYong Motorsport team when the Dakar Rally’s first stage kicked off on 7 January 2019. Yet ten days later, Óscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo rose to the challenge of returning to the Peruvian capital after 3,000 timed kilometres. For the second consecutive year, the Spanish duo was able to finish the Dakar Rally with SsangYong Motorsport. They also rounded out the feat with a magnificent third place finish in their category for the Rexton DKR, which was even more rewarding, and lending a hint of heroism to their performance, considering this edition’s extreme level of difficulty.

In motorsport’s most challenging race, the mere fact of finishing is often a prize in and of itself, which is why this finish tastes of glory, and more than makes up for all of SsangYong Motorsport’s efforts. It also reflects the skill of its driver, as well as the Rexton’s performance and reliability. “The rally was extremely challenging in terms of intensity and difficulty. It wasn’t just a race, it was challenge enough having to pass through what they threw in front of us, Óscar Fuertes said as he pat his 100% Spanish vehicle: “Our SsangYong Rexton got us here, despite what we put it through”.

While savouring his success, the former Spanish Rallys de Tierra champion also wanted to thank the Korean brand’s team for all of their hard work. “We should be extremely satisfied with the work we did. Everyone gave 140%. This was done with passion, everyone from the first SsangYong Motorsport member to the last. Even though we play the leading roles, and are the ones having their picture taken, this is the result of great work done by the whole team, the driver said.

This showing was also special for co-pilot Diego Vallejo because, while the last two years were alongside Fuertes with SsangYong Motorsport, 2019 was actually the fourth Dakar Rally in which he has competed and finished. “We are very pleased to be here at the finish line of a Dakar Rally as rough and sandy as this one. We had a really bad time during some difficult moments, but we got through them all. That’s largely thanks to the Rexton DKR, which handled like an ace despite how demanding we were”, he admitted.

The experienced Galician co-pilot said his goodbyes with a quip that sums up the enormous sacrifice made to achieve this 2019 Dakar Rally success: “I don’t think I’ll head to the beach much this year, I’ve already had enough sand!”, he joked. Then again, next to the podium in Lima, he let out a spontaneous cheer: “Bring on the next one!”.